Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Floating the Pink Pound; Travel: All aboard for a Party Cruise

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Floating the Pink Pound; Travel: All aboard for a Party Cruise

Article excerpt

Byline: MARIA HARDING

I'VE always considered the Spanish fairly high up in the style stakes, but the latest arrivals at Barcelona airport leave them gaping.

Toting Vuitton luggage and resplendent in top-to-toe designer wear, these travellers display as much sartorial lan as any Vogue fashionista. I was in Barcelona for the biggest gay cruise to sail the Mediterranean, and this well-muscled mob were my shipmates-to-be.

At the port, with 1,800 people queuing to board the Splendour of the Seas, chaos reigned.

But our happy campers were quite content to check out the nearest talent while waiting to check in. The ship's pool was the venue for the first party of many; it was standing room only at the bar and the deck was a writhing mass of bodies getting on down to the throb of gigantic speakers.

Nasser, a doe-eyed Egyptian, was quick to join the dancers cavorting at the edge of the pool. His friend Andrew, a George Michael lookalike from Earl's Court, couldn't believe his eyes. "It's just so weird," he kept saying, "like an all-day gay nightclub."

I was just thinking how different it was from the usual first day of a cruise, when the only dancing you'll see is the Muppet-like bobbing of a few elderly couples on the dancefloor. And that's not the only thing that differentiates a gay cruise.

The onboard atmosphere is welcoming and it's very easy to make new friends.

James, a handsome Canadian intent on bedding as many of his fellow cruisers as possible, invited me to tweak his nipple ring.

So bonhomie abounded. The only thing in short supply was the company of other women, of whom there were only a handful - mostly entertainers or straights having fun with male gay friends.

Eventually, I managed to track down Linda and Betty, a lesbian couple from New York, and asked them if they felt a little isolated. "Not at all," Betty said.

"We're happy to holiday with gay men because we're all part of one community. …

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